And then there were 2 bottles left standing. Tonight one of them goes home a champion, another faced with always remembering how close they came. The competitors are (3) 2007 Bodega Norton Malbec ($8) hailing from Cost Plus World Market vs. (1) 2004 Chateau Chevalier Napa Cabernet ($15) which emerged from the Trader Joe’s bracket.
No one needs a reminder of the rules, the gloves are off. One more round of blind tasting. This time with all four of us tasting and tabulating the scores to see the winner. How did these two advance to the dance? Let’s take a quick look:
- The Bodega Norton pulled off an upset in the opener taking down the 337 Cab 82-76. Next it torched another upstart in the Aaku 82-65. In the Cost Plus regional final it went down to the wire before the Norton downed the Show 82-81 in OT. After taking down three Cabs it was matched against the winner of the BevMo regional, the Talus Pinot Noir, and was an easy winner 84-74. Who do they face in the finals? Another Cab, if history holds you have to like their odds.
- The Chateau Chevalier walked unchallenged to the finals. Winning handily against Trader Joe’s Coastal Cabernet, Fetzer Cabernet, and Rosenblum Zinfandel to advance to the Final Four. Here it met the Stephen Vincent winning 90-86 to advance to the finals. Given I am coaching this wine I am really liking its chances to coast to the title.
With pregame covered we would typically head to my twitter feed for some play by play action, but to be honest I am still recovering from the crazy events that unfolded this evening. The bottles were bagged, numbered, opened and poured. I put my nose in #1 and was thrust back into my chair. Goodness that is hot. Hope that blows off, that is not the nose of a champion. This Malbec is in trouble. The nose on #2 was muted, perhaps because my nostrils were burned… Back to #1, started to blow off, you could now find some oak lingering beneath the oppressing heat. On the palate you found fruit followed by pepper, leading to a tart, tangy finish. #2 has some fruit up front, that soured and ended a bit thin. Not what I remember from the Chevalier. Up by 1 at half but no one is playing to win. Disappointed in their showing I let them have it in the locker room. Where is the chalky finish, the silky smooth shooting?
Apparently they had nothing left in reserve, showing sour cherry flavors that led to some unpleasant cough syrup action. I was very disappointed in #2 as I expected so much more from the winner of the Trader Joe’s regional. In the mean time, #1 was settling in nicely, the heat was ebbing and the oak notes began to intermingle with some mint. In fact, it was starting to taste too good, this damn Norton taking down my team. I must have mixed them up so I poured out both glasses to reset the shot clock for the final 5 minutes. Dammit! Back in the glass and I didn’t mix them up. If #1 had a finish it could walk away with the title. Come on #2 show me that magic we shared the last few weeks. Alas, with time running out #1 squared up and dropped the winning jump shot as time expired to win 88-87.
And that is when all hell broke loose. You see I was there, coaching #2, and there is no way that shot got off before the buzzer. I run over to the ref and state my case. They have a conference. Decide to review the tape. Minutes pass. More minutes pass. They call it off! #2 is the champ 87-86. I start to do my dance, no trust me you don’t want to see. They bring the championship t-shirts out on the floor. I put mine on, then I turn to Team #2 to see if they are doing the same. Sure enough, off comes the brown bags… WTF!!!! Bodega Norton! I’ve been coaching Bodega Norton this whole time! Wait, forget what I said about that last second jumper… wait, a little initial heat on the nose crossed me up this much… wait, no no no… This can’t be the end, but it is and the Bodega Norton Malbec is cutting down the nets as the champions of the initial Grape Madness tournament.
Bodega Norton Malbec 87 – Chateau Chevalier Cabernet 86